Viscount Cilcennin Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of Viscount Cilcennin, mainly letters, 1936-1980, including a letter relating to the time when he was assistant Private Secretary to Stanley Baldwin, 1936; letters relating to his time as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Anthony Eden, 1937-1938; correspondence with Viscount Cranborne, 1938-[c. 1954]; photographs, programmes and reports relating to the Viscount's journey to the Olympic Games in Melbourne, 1956-1957; lecture transcripts; letters relating to his time as chairman of the governing body of Rugby, 1958; and newspaper cuttings relating to the resignation of Viscount Cilcennin as First Lord of the Admiralty, his political career and obituaries on his death, 1952-1960. The collection gives valuable evidence for the study of the political situation from c. 1934 until 1960, and the Conservative Party's foreign policy, particularly the break between Neville Chamberlain and Anthony Eden in the late 1930s.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Purdon Lewes Thomas, Viscount Cilcennin, (1903-1960), from Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, was educated at Rugby School; he contested his first parliamentary election as the Conservative candidate for Llanelli, Carmarthesnhire, in 1929. In 1931, he was returned as Conservative member for Hereford, and represented this constituency until 1955. He was appointed Assistant Private Secretary to Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), at that time Lord President of the Council. Thomas became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Anthony Eden (1897-1977) as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1937, when Eden's attempts to address the threat of Fascism came into conflict with Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement, culminating in Eden's resignation in 1938. Thomas corresponded with Viscount Cranborne, Bobbety, one of Anthony Eden's supporters. In 1940, Thomas was appointed a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, before he was promoted to the post of Financial Secretary to the Admiralty. After the Labour vistory in the 1945 geenral election, he became Vice-chairman of the Conservative Party. In 1951, he was made First Lord of the Admiralty when the Conservative Party regained power, but resigned in 1956. He was created Viscount Cilcennin of Hereford in 1955. When Viscount Cilcennin retired, he accompanied Prince Phillip on his world tour of 1956-1957. He was active in public life. In 1957, he became Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire. He died in 1960; his book Admiralty House, Whitehall was published posthumously. He was married to Anna Louisa.


Arranged in chronological order

Conditions Governing Access

The papers that are less than thirty years old may not be produced for searchers without the written consent of the depositor.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Mr H. R. P. Lloyd, Trealy, Mitchel Troy, Monmouth, in April, 1980.


Compiled by Annette Strauch and Martin Locock for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of the description: Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Catalogue of Viscount Cilcennin Papers; Dictionary of Welsh Biography, 1941-1970 (London, 2001); Who Was Who, 1951-1960; 10 Downingstreet website (, viewed 18 November 2003; Churchill College, University of Cambridge website (, viewed 18 November 2003; Roy Harrod website (, viewed 18 November 2003; Guardian Century website (,6051,127147,00.html), viewed 23 April 2004.

Other Finding Aids

A hard copy of the list is available at Carmarthenshire Archives Service.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply

Appraisal Information

All records have been retained

Custodial History

Some of Viscount Cilcennin's papers were transferred to his sister Joan Thomas after his death. When she died they were given to the depositor, Mr H. R. P. Lloyd, through her trustee, who signed the Official Secrets Act in respect of her custody of these papers. After this many papers were destroyed.


Accruals are not expected


Anthony Eden, Lord Avon, used many of these papers for his books.